6 Types of Student Check-ins Ideal for Remote Learning

Written by Lorcan Archer - Content Marketing Specialist at Explorance.

Image of an instructor communicating with students on a video call

Remote learning is becoming a core part of the modern student experience. The need for techniques that facilitate continuous communication between instructors and students, who may never encounter each other in person, is also increasing relative to this.

Developing a rapport and good feedback cycle with a student group is a vital part of realizing the success of each student within that group. Maximizing those opportunities to regularly assess student progress, or check-in, can help fill the gaps in student application, motivation, and learning – as well encouraging instructors themselves.

A culture of regular check-ins, once well-managed, will be welcomed among a remote student body, as it will help identify challenges before they become roadblocks. Instigated as part of a system of feedback analytics, it will facilitate better student engagement and will work in tandem with a Higher Education Institution (HEI)’s comprehensive experience management strategy.

  1. Time management checks
    Remote learning is subject to all the same pressures of time constraints as in-person learning. Even with the pressures of being physically present removed, students still need to produce the best-possible coursework and assignments to deadlines, and work around a set period of dates. Most instructors will do their best to facilitate students – but this is more easily managed if students are able to candidly communicate that they are having time management challenges. This could be a particular issue when a new course syllabus is being employed. Progress check-ins, and noting how much work is being completed in relation to deadlines, is a very helpful way for instructors to help students overcome other struggles – while keeping everyone’s expectations realistic.
  2. Mental well-being check-ins
    HEIs are primarily focused on academic excellence, but this cannot be achieved without mental health support being available to the student body at large. Check-ins, either prompted by observant instructors or simply regularly scheduled, can gauge the well-being of students and provide an opening for students to communicate and signal when they need help or are in danger of burnout. Making this a regular, institutionally-prompted process, rather than waiting for students to initiate, is a key move. These sorts of check-ins should ideally be delivered with the support of a qualified mental health professional.
  3. Post reading, prior to discussion
    Checking in with students promptly, such as shortly after an important text or instructional content piece has been assigned, can have considerable value for course instructors. This offers the option to collect first impression responses and gather feedback while the content is fresh in the minds of the students.  Gathering real-time feedback from students in the moment is a good way to check the overall impact of course material on individuals, but also primes instructors for sentiment and reaction amongst a student body, prior to discussion. This can be a significant aid in planning.
  4. Set period consultations
    It is generally recommended not to let a significant amount of time go by without an academic check-in with students. Delivering on these set check-ins creates a regular space for issues and problems to be discovered and discussed. By committing to gathering feedback over a set period, be it weekly, bi-weekly etc, an on-going opportunity for students to communicate their concerns and opinion exists, while instructors get a chance to address any learning roadblocks before it’s too late. The regularity of these check-ins is the essence of their value, as students know they can rely on them, week in and week out. The benefits of this regular consultation will then likely be reflected in course evaluations, as the student voice opens up.
  5. One-on-one check-ins
    Depending on class size, taking the time for individual check-ins, even for short, condensed periods of 15 minutes, is a great way to stay in touch with students. This can be a highly effective method for tutors or small group instructors. Using video conferencing technology allows the space between instructor and student to be overcome. This technique can allow for discussion to draw out student’s reflections in a way that surveys and feedback forms sometimes simply cannot achieve. Simply put, these check-ins allow remote teaching professionals to get to know students beyond the student questionnaire, and the earlier they are delivered, the better. Quantifying the impact of these sessions is made easier with power of a student experience platform.
  6. RSS: ‘Retain, Stop and Start’
    A rapid-fire, but highly effective way of checking in with students, is adopting an RSS – or Retain, Stop and Start consultation. RSS consultations are a great way to gauge those concerns that are top of mind for students. This approach essentially asks for student feedback on what they really wish to retain about their student experience, what they prefer would be ceased altogether, and any new aspect that they’d like to see added – giving the student voice an opportunity to contribute to course delivery. Continuous listening tools like Bluepulse can be an effective way to gather this feedback in a fast, efficient manner. These check-ins can be delivered rapidly, to limit impact on student and instructor time.

Across all these check-in techniques, the emphasis is squarely on frequency and depth. The more frequently that a higher education institution can perform a substantive check-in or utilize touchpoints, be they digital or in-person, the more the student experience can be better understood and used to drive success – a win for all involved.

Start connecting with the power of the student voice in our ‘new normal’.

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